Fake Railroad China: Stock Patterns

Somewhat related to the problem of china reproductions is the issue of stock patterns. It is common to see china pieces offered as railroad china when it merely represents a stock pattern that was used by a railroad. In other words, there is no guarantee that a given piece ever saw railroad service. For example, the plate shown at right is not backstamped or marked for a railroad, although this pattern was definitely used by the Spokane, Portland & Seattle Railway. In this particular case, no china in this pattern was marked for the SP&S, so a collector does not have much choice if he or she wants an example of this pattern.

However, there are many instances where some pieces in a particular china pattern were railroad-marked with a stamp on the back while other pieces in this same pattern were not. Beware of the seller who offers a stock piece of china and cites one of the major railroad china references but "neglects" to mention that all railroad instances of this pattern were backstamped! Generally, the advice from the china gurus is to only buy marked china, unless the pattern was owned and used exclusively by the railroad. Photo courtesy of Tom and Meg Coughlin